CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia Health System says demand is split right down the middle when it comes to parents getting children under five years of age vaccinated against COVID-19.

On June 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that the youngest age group could and should get vaccinated against the virus.

Children in that age group can get a series of doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

Dr. Debbie Ann Shirley, the head of the UVA Division of Pediatric Infectious Disease, says the Virginia Department of Health reports that 20,000 children in the youngest age group have received a first dose of one of the vaccines.

In the Central Virginia area, about 12,000 such doses have been administered.

UVA Health has been hosting community events to get more people in the area vaccinated.

"Vaccinations have become the best way to prevent against severe disease and hospitalization, which tends to be rare in this age group but it does occur in healthy children," said Shirley.

She also says there are plenty of doses left if a parent would like to get their child vaccinated.

Parents just need to call their child’s doctor’s office and make an appointment.

Doctors are also explaining the importance of getting booster shots and knowing when a person is eligible for a booster after their initial vaccination series.

Dr. Costi Sifri, the director of hospital epidemiology at UVA Health, says it’s key to understand that what is being seen now is cases of the Omicron subvariant BA.5, and with it, there have been a lot of reinfections.

He also says that people who are vaccinated and have had COVID after being vaccinated do have extra immunity to help fight such subvariants and worsening COVID conditions.

"By getting a booster vaccine, you are offering a higher level of protection for those serious consequences of COVID,” said Sifri. “So the CDC guidance and our recommendations are if you are in a high-risk group, then you should make sure you are up to date with your COVID vaccines." 

At this time, there are 32 patients hospitalized at UVA Health for treatment of COVID.